We are not the weekend parents and hence, much less fun. But, we’re okay with that. We know that the actual weekends parents are more fun – because they have the luxury to always be the fun ones. For the first three years, I raised my daughter all by myself. Her biological dad bounced as soon as I told him I was pregnant. He grudgingly showed up for one of my ultrasounds around the seven-month mark. He didn’t show up at the hospital on the day she was born. He was not on the birth certificate even for the first couple years. He didn’t show up to see her on her first Christmas. He didn’t tell his own mother she had a granddaughter until she was over two years old. He got to continue having all the fun of a non-parent lifestyle while never taking her for a single night or giving me a dime to help take care of her.
My now-hubby and I finally took him to court when she was almost five (he hadn’t even seen her for over a year by then after we moved to a different state than he), and I was given full legal custody while he got visitation one weekend a month and supervised phone calls (calls which he’s never once taken advantage of) twice a week, and he was ordered to start paying child support. In those earlier years, he didn’t even keep her himself on “his” weekends; he would drop her at his mother’s the whole time. It wasn’t until she was older and more self-sufficient that he decided to start spending time with her – after all that initial hard work had been done by us and his mom without him.
These days, now that she’s a teenager, he buys her a bunch of stuff every time she goes there. She has fun up there; she has no responsibility on that 48 hours once a month. We want her to enjoy what’s left of her childhood. We want her to have good memories all around. However, our problem comes when she gets back home with us and has a nasty attitude towards us and is completely disrespectful. Disrespect is one thing we will not tolerate. Her biological dad has the luxury of being the fun parent; we’re the ones that actively have to raise her day in and day out. It’s our full-time responsibility to make sure she turns into as decent a human being as possible. We’re the ones who try to instill character, core values, integrity, etc. We’re try to steer her away from any entitlement.
The fun weekend parents make the day-to-day raising of her that much more difficult, but our job’s not done! We still have a few more years left with her to give her her best shot at all she can be. No aspect of parenting is easy (if you’re doing it right – or have those rare, perfect angelic children!), and split households make it that much more difficult. For us, we don’t overreact, we we try to have calm and substantive talks about the way she speaks to us at times, and we have in weekly therapy sessions (her idea, actually!). I wish I could be a fun parent 24/7, but I know that it will only be a detriment to her as she grows into an adult. Don’t get me wrong; we have fun. But, we have to give her the structure and discipline she needs and that she won’t get anywhere else.
My latest response to her when she gets riled up or just can’t comprehend something we do that’s “mean” is to tell her to come talk to me when she’s 25. She’ll understand then! She says she doesn’t get it. I say, “I know. Again, come to me when you’re 25, and you totally will then.” 🙂 I grew up in split households; I had a rough time of it with both my biological parents. There were some really rough years there while I grew up. Now, my mom is one of my best friends. It didn’t really happen until my mid-20s, and my sister-in-law had said the same thing herself. One day, I can be fun all the time with my daughter. Today is not that day, and I’m totally at peace with that. If you’re not the “fun” parents or have roadblocks with healthy coparenting, know that you can be one day and our kids will thank us for all the life lessons we’re teaching them today.